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TAKING DOWN BACKPAGE by Maggy Krell Kirkus Star


Fighting the World’s Largest Sex Trafficker

by Maggy Krell

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-4798-0304-0
Publisher: New York Univ.

How a ferocious California prosecutor fought successfully against a significant component of the global sex-trafficking industry.

Krell was 25 years old when she worked on her first case involving young sex workers and began to see that prostitution was anything but a victimless crime. "The images of those girls from that motel…were etched into my brain,” she writes, “and would drive me throughout my career….By the time I became a supervising deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice, the seedy motel, I realized, had metamorphosized into a website:" For 10 years in 800 cities, Backpage ran ads selling young people for sex, taking a cut that amounted to millions of dollars. Yet when Krell fought through local and federal resistance to orchestrate the arrests of Backpage’s leaders, she saw an award from the FBI on one of their desks, praising his "outstanding cooperation" in helping them "find victims." As the author knew, Backpage merely helped pimps thwart law enforcement by rewriting the ads that had gotten them in trouble. When she finally got the case to court in 2016, it was dismissed without a trial due to the Communications Decency Act, perceived as “a complete shield from liability” for any business conducted on the internet. Shaken but undeterred, Krell built a team of attorneys and law enforcement officers who finally put an end to the outrages of this online brothel. Of her counterpart in Texas, lead attorney Kirsta Melton, Krell writes, "We were both busy moms scrambling to get our kids to sports practices and games while also prosecuting some of the most depraved criminals in our respective states….Above all else, we were both hell-bent on helping kids and doing everything we could to disrupt sex trafficking.” Both women deserve the highest praise for their enterprising work on behalf of some of society’s most vulnerable members.

A memoir, a legal thriller, and a heartening perspective on law enforcement at its best and brightest.